Point Of Sale Adaptations


At Jerry’s in Eugene, OR: ceiling mounted lumber racks,  to hold lumber for POS scanning. Interesting compromise between material length and human height. Also some implicit assumptions about cart usage. Also, note the “lane free” arrangement.

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Spring Clamp Door Stop


Clever re-use of a spring clamp in Eugene, OR. Lever action compensates for uneven cement. Rubber ends provide grip.

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Juki DNU-1541S Service Manual and Users Manual

Juki 1541s


Juki DNU-1541S Sales Brochure.

Juki DNU-1541s Service Manual /Engineer’s Manual.

Juki DNU-1541s Operator’s Manual/ User’s Manual.

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Bernina 1130 User Manual and Service Manual [PDF]

These manuals are hard to find on the Internet. I found them.


Bernina 1130 User Manual/Guide. PDF, 59 pages.

Bernina 1130/1120 Service Manual. PDF, 73 pages.

Keywords: Bernina 1130 User Manual. Bernina 1130 Repair. Bernina Oiling Guide. How to thread Bernina 1130. How to wind bobbin. How to lift presser foot. 1130 hook alignment.

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Reasons To Exist


Elevator phones will be among the last legitimate uses for landlines.

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Power, Access


The forces that form conduit. The locks that keep the curious out. The drops – free and clear, save for high amperage Hubbel plugs you’re unlikely to carry. No charging mobiles here, you can’t plug in your hair dryer – but you could jack in a power hacksaw… or stage lighting. Any exposed end can compromise a system, at least in a negative way. It’s funny, you could short a drop and turn it off, blowing the breaker, but you couldn’t turn it back on without bolt cutters.

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Cut To Fit


I have the biggest phone. It takes the smallest SIM. I bought a pair of flush cutters, trimmed the excess, and gave the tools to Scann.

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Hunger, Incentive, and Timing


I’d eat the damned thing.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Worldwide Light Pickups


Spotted in Buenos Aires – a breed of light truck long absent in the US. Like a Brat or an El Camino.

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It’s A Juki!


Welcoming a new machine into my life.

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Secure Location


The relationship between a “secure” site and the number of uniquely identifiable pick-up points. The knowledge an unusual or extreme location implies.

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Pebble Wide Watch Strap

I hated the slippery, hot silicone band that came with my Pebble watch, so I made a new one out of some beautiful blue leather.

2013-09-15 00.12.10 2013-09-15 00.13.32

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Meals Ready to Eat

MREs for dinner. Gather ’round for SPAGHETTI W/  MEAT SAUCE 901234-08:2013-09-04 22.57.08

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Creative Commons Global Summit – This Week!


Faro de Palacio Barolo sobre Congreso (View of Buenos Aires and Palacio Barolo, at night) by Beatrice MurchCC BY

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving talks in Buenos Aires and La Plata in the coming week. This is for the Creative Commons Global Summit:

The global community of Creative Commons will gather this year in Buenos Aires for our bi-annual Global Summit. The event, which will run for three days from 21 to 24 August, will be held at the Centro Cultural General San Martín and will be co-hosted by our local Creative Commons affiliates, Fundación Vía Libre and Wikimedia Argentina. This is the first time the conference will be held in a Spanish-speaking country, and the second time in Latin America.

I’ve been working with Scann on this for almost a year now, and she’s been working hard behind the scenes to make it all happen. She’s been building scanners for use in Argentina by Wikimedia and other agencies, libraries, universities, projects. Here’s one of them:

Scann_6338946131_9e898a59dd_zphoto cc by blmurch

I’ll be talking about the ways Open Hardware serves Open Content projects, and I’ll also be talking about how my project got started and where I see it going in the future. I’m so excited to go see the huge amount of work that’s been done in Argentina, and especially to learn from these users the ways that DIY Book Scanning can improve.

Sorry that this post is so short and so late – I’ve been preparing for days! Fortunately, there’s a lot more online


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TIG Welding, BIG Teething

I build optical assemblies out of aluminum, and I need to stick them together – meaning I need  TIG welding capability. While I usually weld steel with Miller MIG/GMAW gear, I decided to try out one of the upstart TIG welders, the Everlast 185, a Chinese-made solid-state TIG. A complete kit, with foot pedal, tungsten, regulator, etc runs about $1k.


Having MIG welded since I was a little kid (thanks, Dad!) I fully expected that I could be up and TIGging aluminum plates within an hour or two. Har har. Couldn’t have been more wrong, TIG made me feel like a total n00b.

In MIG welding, you have a gun that feeds wire into the weld area. The wire carries the current and is also the filler metal. It is surrounded by a laminar flow of shielding gas, typically 75% argon and 25% CO2. The beauty of MIG is that you basically point the gun where you want molten metal and it appears. TIG, on the other hand, is a special torch with a tungsten tip. The tip is surrounded by 100% argon shielding gas. The arc emerges from the tip, and you use it to heat the surface of the metal. When a small puddle forms, you push a “filler rod” into the puddle to plump it up, and then you move forward along your intended weld a little bit, and then fill it again, over and over and over.

TIG, particularly on aluminum, requires some pretty serious finesse. This is in part because aluminum is always covered in aluminum oxide, which has a much higher melting point than the metal underneath. You mess with the “BALANCE” knob above until the arc “cleans” the oxide and makes way for a clean puddle to form. THEN you have to move the puddle forward with the arc/shielding gas, and THEN you have to, at very regular intervals, get filler rod in there. When you weld steel, you typically grind the tungsten tip of your torch into a point to concentrate the arc. When you weld aluminum, you want it to be domed. If you hit your torch with enough amperage right off the bat, you can form a perfect dome with heat alone:


Pretty much the worst thing you can do when TIG welding is touch the tungsten electrode tip to the metal or to the filler rod. You need to steadily hold the torch less than a millimeter above the surface. And you need to get the rod within a few mm of the arc for it to melt properly. So you are constantly clumsily touching the tungsten to the work. And when you do that, it contaminates the tungsten, and creates a huge, ugly black splatter all over your workpiece. You have to take the tungsten out of the torch and go sand off the contaminated tip. Below, some of the ugliest, most embarrassing “welds” I’ve ever created. I can still hear the crack of the torch tip as it ruined itself.


Awful. After several hours of messing around, I started to get something of a feel for the right way to both bust through the oxide layer and to lay down filler rod. Since my torch is air-cooled, it gets almost too hot to hold after just 6-7″ of weld. So I kept these welds nice and short. What you’re looking for, when you are looking at this next image, is regular spacing, and shiny surface texture. Welding people say that a good TIG weld should look like a stack of nickels. Well, by that metric, I am a poor man indeed.


Even so, I am proud of these ugly and slightly irregular welds. I feel somewhat in control of my welder now, and it’s time to hit the books and YouTube again.

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Hot Shop Tip

Searching for tools, parts, and supplies really saps the fun out of a project. That goes double for basic and rote tasks, like applying heat-shrink tubing while soldering cables.


Recognizing this, I bought a ten-pack of Bic lighters and put one in every heat shrink assortment I have. I also dropped one next to my soldering iron. That way, even if my heat gun is misplaced, I will not have to search, wait, or think at all before I can finish the wiring – which is usually the least interesting part of any job.

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Public Facilities

The old Metro polymer bus benches are being removed. They had three molded concave “seats”, and also three convenient corresponding concavities on the back side of the back rest. While the process of bench replacement is mostly about money, it also has the happy side effect of removing the homeless population’s favorite public urinals.

LA_Bench_UrinalNew bench on the left, old bench stain on the right.

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Stairway to Hell

On a date with Dana, I found a bomber boarding ladder. LA is a strange place – strange and wonderful.F111

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Finished: Studio

Graduate studies meant sacrificing hobbies. Having just released an album, I felt I could take a break from music.

Had to be one of the least fulfilling decisions I ever made. Music is alive and well and I’m in the mood to make it. Bringing the studio back has been a “priority” since moving to LA. Tonight, I finished the “MVS” – the Minimum Viable Studio.


Now, I’m not stupid- no studio is ever truly finished – but this step in the process is. Gonna spend tonight writing music, using samples from my MiniDisc collection.


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Finishing MiniDisc

At 14, I bought a microcassette recorder to record touch and signalling tones. Turned out to be a lot more amusing to record my adventures with Doz (we called him Brando, then). We made so many tapes. Miles of songs, jokes, sketches and music. Our friendship set in rust.


Around 1999, Doz got a MiniDisc recorder. An MZ-R37. It was a glorious thing. Sleek, digital, optical. We mic’d our exploits, friends, bands, bus stops.

It felt like anything could be valuable. So we recorded us.brand0_josh_daniel

Usually with a joke in mind.

We graduated and I spent my first memorable year away from him. Got my own recorder. I was exploring new environments, new phone systems, new friends and old tunnels.daniel_freshman

I documented everything with a scratchy microphone stuck to my collar, and the peculiar scrape of MiniDisc recording in my pocket. I think I had an R90, then. Later, a Sharp MS722. Note the giant Motorola on my belt.

Captured: Darkness.




Some five years later I moved to Russia and recorded hours of teaching class. Phreaky sounds of the crossbar telephone system in Obninsk. Trains, busted elevators, conversations with Ksiu.  A lot of empty hallway sounds, for some reason. Think I just liked the echo.hallway

Yeah, I really invested in MiniDisc, even though I knew Sony was a shit company. You see, the problem with MiniDisc, fundamentally, was that it recorded digitally, but you could never get the sounds back out digitally. Recordings were pristine and alive – and you took the damned audio cable out, plugged the MD into your computer’s crappy line-in, and re-recorded the whole thing into a .wav file. In other words, if you recorded an hour, you needed to record for another hour to make use of it. Schizophrenic Sony’s music division did not have the vision of its hardware division, and they took that capability away. Their right to publish MD trumped my right to use my own recordings. Trumped my pocket slice of the skip-proof magneto-optical future. Pained a lot of folks.

After fully ten years of losing market share to CD and MP3, MiniDisc finally died. But Sony, with uncharacteristic charity, gave Minidisc lovers one final gift. The MZ-RH1. $399 MSRP.


This was the machine we’d all been dreaming of. It didn’t do grating things like forgetting your recording levels every time you turned it off. And it read every MiniDisc format, ever – even stepchild NetMD. And it let you upload them to your computer, digitally, with no generational loss. It would have been perfect, except that Sony made it dependent on the ugliest, shittiest user-hating software you’ve ever met. SonicStage. Sony must know this, too, because they don’t even let you download it anymore. You have to get it from filesharing sites and use user-modified files to get it installed and working.

So I never bought an RH1. I was a grad student in a program paying poverty wages and I set field recording aside. My MiniDiscs got their shelf wear goin’. Sony stopped makin’ em. I didn’t care. Five year old recordings got older. The building shit itself.

Well, I care now. I have cash to resurrect the past. Seemed that five years on, an RH1 should be about a hundred bucks on eBay. Well, they’re not – working RH1’s go for more like $500 to $1000. Unbelievably, the format’s dark patterns actually made it appreciate. So I watched them on eBay and Craigslist for over a year until I managed to snipe a couple at a good price. One came in a mini-cooler full of cat hair. Thank you, Craigslist.

Then the fun began. First, I had to locate each and every MD I’d ever recorded – and a few that others had recorded. Then, I had to figure out what they contained. The librarian in me decided to number the discs sequentially from 1 through 80. The cataloger in me decided to listen to each one on fast-forward, and to write the content on the outside of each disc with a marker. The lazy bastard in me decided to line them all up and take a very high resolution picture of the set, so I could refer back to each disc.

Searching through each disc turned out to be as emotional and inspiring as it was brutal and frustrating. It took a whole day, from beginning to end, to hear them all. As it turns out, I don’t like my Old Self (or Young Self, really) nearly as much as I like my Now Self. While pictures lend themselves to great stories years after the snap, recordings of exactly what I said ten years ago mostly just make me bothered with me. They also make me miss all the dead folks and the old ghosts – Josh Nordwall in particular. Elijah Nies. People I just can’t find anymore. Goodbye, Josh. I can finally hear you now.

The good thing about this became obvious only after going through dozens of discs. I’m not some football player staring wistfully at trophies from my halcyon days; I’m a developing human, hacker, and maker who’s better than he once was. If I liked my old self better, that’d be backwards. Extraordinary people were a part of this, even if they didn’t last long.

Speaking of backwards, I had a hell of a time getting useful stuff out of these MDs. SonicStage, the digitizing package, names all the files according to the CURRENT date – not when they were created (which probably wasn’t stored on the disc). While it has the capability to convert the ATRAC *.oma files into .wavs, it just dumps them in a folder OUTSIDE the named and dated folder it created for the OMAs.

Ultimately, I named each folder according to the following scheme:

Given an estimate of 6-10 minutes per disc digitizing time, I thought I could finish this project in a day or a weekend. As it turned out, it required about a week of on-and-off digitizing plus a couple full days of thinking, hearing, labeling, and remembering. Overall, it was worth the work, and I am very glad to be binding these MDs up in plastic for long-term storage. To never use another deliberately crippled piece of shit to capture people that I love.

They’re in a sealed storage case with dessicant and I hope to never open them again.locked

What emerged from this effort was the intrinsic cruelty of perfect memory. When Josh died, he forgot our conversations. Time edited the soundtrack in my mind, and we became less combative, headstrong, and bold. More loving and less specific. But there on the disc were a few hours of unedited exactly-what-happened. And while they were all small transgressions I learned that I don’t necessarily want everything captured. Particularly the small things. Especially with 100%, instantaneous, perfect recall. Pettiness, I think, is best left to dust.

<small>Postscript: I take great joy in starting new things and recording new data. However, this joy is also a burden. I have dozens of mostly-finished projects pressing. The last 5-6 months of this year are going to be spent on Finishing Things. This is the first thing I’ve Finished in a while. Feels great. Next…</small>

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